Bridging the gap between students and administration


Several Mercy students listen attentively to Mrs. Witte’s input and ask direct questions about her role on the administrative team. (Photo credit: Brooklyn Rue)

Nearly 15 Mercy students gathered in the North Faculty Lounge, drinking coffee and eating donuts and bagels with Principal Carolyn Witte at 7:30 a.m. on Feb. 24. This new monthly gathering is a part of a larger effort to allow students to have a closer, more personal relationship with administration.

After social studies teacher Mrs. Cindy Richter heard from some students in her Contemporary Issues class that they did not know the difference between Principal Mrs. Carolyn Witte and President Dr. Cheryl Kreger, Mrs. Richter decided to speak with administration herself.

“[Students felt] there have been a lot of changes made over the past year and [administration] was making all these rules, but we didn’t see them,” said Mrs. Richter.

She brought these issues to Dean of Students Mrs. Eleasha Tarplin, and, as a result, Associate Principal Mrs. Colleen Rozman, Mrs. Witte, and Dr. Kreger came into her Contemporary Issues class twice to answer any questions students had. Mrs. Richter thought students should have the opportunity to sit down and talk with Mrs. Witte and Dr. Kreger, in order to relate more to administration and get some of their confusion cleared up. The first Coffee with the Principal gathering was in January, and it was so popular and positive that Mrs. Richter felt it should become a monthly event.

“It was a good way to just sit with somebody and try to see them as more than just whatever title they are carrying,” said Mrs. Richter.

The second Coffee with the Principal was a success as well. Students sat at a long conference table and were encouraged to ask Mrs. Witte questions.  Mrs. Witte talked about how often the administrative team meets, and the new, online class evaluations implemented for students to voice their input.

“Students don’t see an immediate response to their issue, and so they don’t think that the issue is being resolved,” said Mrs. Witte. “But in my 15 years of being principal here, I have seen that isn’t the case.”

Mrs. Witte also explained her own experience at Mercy High School. She is a Mercy alum and taught in Mercy’s English Dept. for 26 years before becoming principal.

“I think these four years at this school are the four most important years of development in your entire life,” said Mrs. Witte.

Some students agree, and feel there are a lot of important skills developed during their time here.

“If there is anything that I have gotten from these past four years, it’s confidence,” said senior Erin Judd.

Students, such as senior Carmela Sleva, find these meetings with administration beneficial.

“Mrs. Witte is very personable and outgoing and I really enjoy talking to her,” said Sleva. “I think this is a good baseline for connecting students and administrators, but I think the next step is to bring in student panels and ask them questions to get direct student feedback. Overall, it was a great experience, I learned a lot, and I would encourage everyone to try to go.”